I know the primary focus of this blog is supposed to be about all the reasons to purchase a new home, but there are sometimes more important things to talk about. One such topic is the dedication and commitment made to us by everyone that is serving, or has served in the US Armed Forces, as well as their families. It is their sacrifices that preserve the freedoms we enjoy.
Last night, I was watching a special on wounded warriors on TV. With a son-in-law, nephew, and numerous friends serving in the military, my thoughts quickly wandered into a series of “what if?”
This morning, a favorite blog that I subscribe to, http://johnhealdsblog.com/2010/12/27/didja-have-a-happy-christmas/ also payed tribute to wounded warriors and referenced another blog to subscribe to, www.iraqandback.com.
This afternoon I received the following email, forwarded to me by a fellow agent and friend. Countless numbers of families and friends are just one phone call away from this experience. Please read and reflect….
My lead flight attendant came to me and said, “We have an H.R. on this
flight.” (H.R. stands for human remains.) “Are they military?”
‘Is there an escort?’ I asked.
‘Yes, I already assigned him a seat’.
‘Would you please tell him to come to the flight deck.
You can board him early,” I said..
A short while later, a young army sergeant entered the flight deck.
He was the image of the perfectly dressed soldier.
He introduced himself and I asked him about his soldier.
The escorts of these fallen soldiers talk about them as if they are still
alive and still with us.
‘My soldier is on his way back to Virginia ,’ he said.
He proceeded to answer my questions, but offered no words.
I asked him if there was anything I could do for him and he said no.
I told him that he had the toughest job in the military and that I
appreciated the work that he does for the families of our fallen soldiers.
The first officer and I got up out of our seats to shake his hand.
He left the flight deck to find his seat.
We completed our preflight checks, pushed back and performed an uneventful
About 30 minutes into our flight I received a call from the lead flight
attendant in the cabin.
‘I just found out the family of the soldier we are carrying, is also on board’, she
She then proceeded to tell me that the father, mother, wife and 2-year old
daughter were escorting their son, husband, and father home.
The family was upset because they were unable to see the container that the
soldier was in before we left.
We were on our way to a major hub at which the family was going to wait four
hours for the connecting flight home to Virginia .
The father of the soldier told the flight attendant that knowing his son was
below him in the cargo compartment and being unable to see him was too much for
him and the family to bear. He had asked the flight attendant if there was
anything that could be done to allow them to see him upon our arrival. The
family wanted to be outside by the cargo door to watch the soldier being taken
off the airplane.. I could hear the desperation in the flight attendants voice
when she asked me if there was anything I could do.. ‘I’m on it’, I said. I
told her that I would get back to her.
Airborne communication with my company normally occurs in the form of e-mail
like messages. I decided to bypass this system and contact my flight dispatcher directly on a secondary radio.
There is a radio operator in the operations control center who connects you to
the telephone of the dispatcher.
I was in direct contact with the dispatcher.. I explained the situation I had
on board with the family and what it was the family wanted
He said he understood and that he would get back to me.
Two hours went by and I had not heard from the dispatcher. We were going to
get busy soon and I needed to know what to tell the family.
I sent a text message asking for an update.
I saved the return message from the dispatcher and the following is the
‘Captain, sorry it has taken so long to get back to you. There is policy on
this now and I had to check on a few things.
Upon your arrival a dedicated escort team will meet the aircraft.
The team will escort the family to the ramp and plane side. A van will be used
to load the remains with a secondary van for the family. The family will be
taken to their departure area and escorted into the terminal where the remains
can be seen on the ramp. It is a private area for the family only.
When the connecting aircraft arrives, the family will be escorted onto the ramp
and plane side to watch the remains being loaded for the final leg home.
Captain, most of us here in flight control are veterans. Please pass our
condolences on to the family. Thanks.’
I sent a message back telling flight control thanks for a good job.
I printed out the message and gave it to the lead flight attendant to pass on
to the father.
The lead flight attendant was very thankful and told me, ‘You have no idea
how much this will mean to them.’
Things started getting busy for the descent, approach and landing.
After landing, we cleared the runway and taxied to the ramp area.
The ramp is huge with 15 gates on either side of the alleyway.
It is always a busy area with aircraft maneuvering every which way to enter and
When we entered the ramp and checked in with the ramp controller, we were told
that all traffic was being held for us.
‘There is a team in place to meet the aircraft’, we were told.
It looked like it was all coming together, then I realized that once we turned
the seat belt sign off, everyone would stand up at once and delay the family
from getting off the airplane.
As we approached our gate, I asked the co-pilot to tell the ramp controller we
were going to stop short of the gate to make an announcement to the passengers.
He did that and the ramp controller said, ‘Take your time.’
I stopped the aircraft and set the parking brake.
I pushed the public address button and said, ‘Ladies and gentleman, this is
your Captain speaking I have stopped short of our gate to make a special
We have a passenger on board who deserves our honor and respect.
His name is Private XXXXXX, a soldier who recently lost his life.
Private XXXXXX is under your feet in the cargo hold. Escorting him today
Army Sergeant XXXXXXX
Also, on board are his father, mother, wife, and daughter.
Your entire flight crew is asking for all passengers to remain in their seats
to allow the family to exit the aircraft first. Thank you.’
I found the two forward flight attendants crying, something you just do not
see. I was told that after we came to a stop, every passenger on the aircraft
stayed in their seats, waiting for the family to exit the aircraft.
When the family got up and gathered their things, a passenger slowly started
to clap his hands. Moments later more passengers joined in and soon the entire aircraft was clapping.
Words of ‘God Bless You’, I’m sorry, thank you, be proud, and other kind
words were uttered to the family as they made their way down the aisle and out
of the airplane. They were escorted down to the ramp to finally be with
their loved one.
Many of the passengers disembarking thanked me for the announcement I had
made. They were just words, I told them, I could say them over and over again, but
nothing I say will bring back that brave soldier.
I respectfully ask that all of you reflect on this event and the sacrifices
that millions of our men and women have made to ensure our freedom and safety
in these United States of AMERICA.
Trey Lewis is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the State of Tennessee with Ole South Realty, www.OleSouth.com, 615.896.0019 direct 615.593.6340. Specializing in new home sales in the Greater Nashville area to include Nashville, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, and Spring Hill, Tennessee